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NKU’s “Moon Over Buffalo” Takes Wing with Non-Stop Humor

Review by Grace Eichler of Moon Over Buffalo: Northern Kentucky University

Northern Kentucky University is starting off their season with an energetic production of Moon Over Buffalo. Director and Cincinnati “name to know” Charlie Roetting certainly makes his mark on the Corbett Theatre stage with this 1950’s green room farce. The show is set in the green room of a Buffalo repertory theatre, as we witness the fallen stars George and Charlotte Hay try to muster their former Broadway glory one last time in the hopes of impressing a Hollywood producer. Add to that a deaf grandmother, a few bottles of liquor, the scripts of Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives, and more than one surprise announcement… hijinks ensue, lots of slamming doors, yadda yadda.

Farce is taken to the next level by the incorporation of over-the-top physical comedy, most notably by the Jim Carrey-esque Nathan Doninger as George Hay. Doninger is matched in energy by his counterpart, Melissa Cathcart as Charlotte Hay. These two vie for the hardest laughs of the show as their marriage and theatre careers seemingly crumble. The script itself has no shortage of jokes, innuendos and stage directions prompting a fast-paced, high energy production, but this interpretation seems to never catch its breath. The first act felt slightly one-note, as there is a big discovery or exclamation every thirty seconds without any respite. I would have loved to see a few more realistic moments amidst all of the exasperation and aggravation, as humorous as it is. Chemistry between the couples onstage would have added a layer of heart and warmth that the show was trying to reach. The costuming, designed by Cathy Siegel Hudson, is the perfect touch of eccentric and theatrical, and particularly impressive as it involves three different time periods.

Very few technical flaws occurred through the show, but they did tend to stand out. A recurring gag involving velcro never quite timed up with the sound cues, which could have been cut all together. That being said, it was opening night, so I assume they will be clean as a whistle after a few more runs. I was also confused by the opening of the show, where a projector screen was rolled down, showed a 10 second trailer (?) of the play, featuring the actors’ names, and rolled back up. It seemed like a fun idea, especially if you were involved in the production, but ultimately unnecessary.

All things aside, the audience had an incredible time on opening night. They were roaring and reacting, catching jokes just before the punchline and eating up the physical comedy. The standing ovation began before the curtain call even started. If you have even an inkling of what it’s like to work in a theatre, you will heartily appreciate this production, and still have the chance to see it until October 4.